Chapter

The Hepatitis C Viruses

Volume 242 of the series Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology pp 55-84

Overview of Hepatitis C Virus Genome Structure, Polyprotein Processing, and Protein Properties

  • K. E. ReedAffiliated withDepartment of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine
  • , C. M. RiceAffiliated withDepartment of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine

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Abstract

Hepatitis C was first recognized as a distinct form of liver disease in the mid-1970s with the advent of diagnostic tests for hepatitis A and B virus infection (ALTER et al. 1975; PRINCE et al. 1974). The etiologic agent of hepatitis C was proposed to be a small, enveloped virus based on demonstrations of its transmissibility to chimpanzees (ALTER et al. 1978; HOLLINGER et al. 1978; TABOR et al. 1978), small size (< 80nm) (BRADLEY et al. 1985; HE et al. 1987), and sensitivity to chloroform (BRADLEY et al. 1983; FEINSTONE et al. 1983). The genome of hepatitis C virus (HCV) was first cloned in 1989 by screening a λgt11 cDNA expression library, derived from the plasma of a persistently infected chimpanzee, with hepatitis C patient serum (CHOO et al. 1989). Hybridization and nuclease digestion experiments indicated that the HCV genome consists of a single-stranded, positive-sense, RNA molecule (CHOO et al. 1989).